Author Topic: Continue commuting beater?  (Read 910 times)

definite integral

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Continue commuting beater?
« on: October 16, 2019, 11:18:27 AM »
I have been commuting a 2000 Jetta TDI with 140k on the motor and 300k on the body. It has given me no serious reason to stop utilizing the vehicle and getting every penny out of it. However I do worry that one day it will leave me on the side of the freeway. Over the last ~3 years I have slowly replaced suspension components as needed. I commute ~300-400 miles a week.

So I am looking for advice on the following options I came up with:

a.) Grab a AAA account and drive it into the ground and leaves me on the side of the freeway with an expense that costs more than the car is worth

b.) Look for a newer vehicle now. I would be financing, and it would be up to 20k probably at ~4.5% APR.

Jon Bon

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Re: Continue commuting beater?
« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2019, 11:40:51 AM »
Option A.

With Smart phones, Uber, and AAA you really are not gonna get stuck on your daily commute. Sure dont take it thought the Donner pass in winter or anything. But I see no reason to stop driving it especially if your option B is to finance a used car. Maybe put a back up phone battery in your glove just in case.


parkerk

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Re: Continue commuting beater?
« Reply #2 on: October 16, 2019, 03:37:17 PM »
Definitely option A.  You might not even need a AAA membership, either.  Put aside the money you would pay for the membership and keep the names and numbers for a couple of local tow truck companies handy and just pay for the tow if/when it comes up. 

If you really feel like your current vehicle's demise is imminent, I'd recommend secret option C: buy a cheaper replacement vehicle for cash.  I don't know about where you live but around here you can get a perfectly serviceable 10-ish year old used car for around $5,000.  You can get a beater that'll still keep you going with regular maintenance for $2,000.  If you can swing a cash purchase at all, this is the way to go.

Picture this:  you buy a used car for 5k cash instead of financing a 20k car.  Since you already know you can afford the payments on the 20k car, put aside that amount of money every month.  Now you have an emergency fund if something does go wrong with the 5k car, and then even if it needs $1,000 a year in repairs every year for 5 years (or whatever the loan term would have been) you'll still have over 15k saved up and you can buy a nicer used car if you want, or just keep saving indefinitely. 

Anyways, this is what we do for cars and I'm more than happy to deal with the occasional trip to the repair shop (and even a couple side-of-the-road incidents) for the amount of money we save.  I'm currently driving a 22-year-old Honda with over 200,000 miles on it that's still going strong. 

diapasoun

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Re: Continue commuting beater?
« Reply #3 on: October 16, 2019, 05:19:42 PM »
Hi. I drive a 2009 Jetta with 120k on the motor and the body both,and drove my old car (a Hyundai Accent) basically into the ground.

I would also go for option A. A thing that not a lot of folks know about is that most insurance companies offer roadside assistance. I have State Farm and they offer roadside assistance for an extra $5 bucks per year. They'll give you a jump, or tow you a good long ways (you should check exactly how far if you have a super long commute to make sure you'll be with tow radius to your mechanic). It's super cost effective and I've used it a LOT -- I think I called roadside 3 times in less than 6 months when my old car was in the process of dying.

I definitely recommend putting money into a sinking fund for a new vehicle if you're worried you'll have to replace it in the next few years. Having the option to buy with cash can get you better deals on vehicles, and at the very least it's pretty reassuring!

Bernard

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Re: Continue commuting beater?
« Reply #4 on: October 16, 2019, 08:28:48 PM »
I've been a "car guy" all my adult life, and my daily driver for the past 21 years has been a 1962 Volvo with God-knows how many hundreds of thousands of miles on it which I bought for exactly $1K. In 2009 we refreshened a spare engine I had purchased for $400 to the tune of about $550 because the old one started blowing smoke. Last year I splurged and had a Volvo specialist go through the entire car and fix "everything," which has cost me . . . uhh . . . $2,762. My mistake. But now it's ready for the next 10 years of pretty much expense-free motoring.

I know this sounds extreme, but the lesson to be learned here is that you can get a great used car between $3K and $5K. If you choose the car not based on color and rim size and the dimensions of the LCD screen but on reliabilty, first and foremost, you should be able to drive it for many years for relatively little money. A used Honda, Toyota, or even Ecotec engine costs around $1K, so that's still cheaper than buying another car. The worst thing that can happen to you is a leaking heater core, as there's usually no cheap way to replace it, unless you have a cop car like a Crown Victoria. Rule of thumb is: the less electronics and black boxes, the better. Since you are driving a beater, I assume you don't give a sh*t about what the neighbors think of you, which helps. We still have a 2002 MINI (wife's car) sitting in the garage, with 91K miles, in superb condition, worth perhaps $3K. Not for sale, but you get the point. Since you are driving a lot, I'd suggest you look into a Prius. I hate those things, hate how they drive, but they get 54mpg and last close to 300K miles without a hiccup. You can get one for $6K with Toyota check (they pull the battery pack, clean it, check it, change the coolant, and certify it as OKAY" for $280).

diapasoun

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Re: Continue commuting beater?
« Reply #5 on: October 17, 2019, 10:15:44 AM »
By the way, OP, if your car dies, you can usually get rid of it without a nasty fee. When mine finally was effectively totaled (the cost of repairs would have been well more than the car was worth), I sold it to one of the mechanics at the shop. The whole process ended up canceling out the cost of the labor I would have owed the shop for their efforts in trying to fix the car, got rid of my car with no cost to me, and got the mechanic a new beater to play with (since he wouldn't have to pay labor costs and could get parts at wholesale). That was a perfectly good resolution for me.

You can also find scrappers who will pay you a few hundred to take a truly dead and fucked car (that metal is good and worth something!), and if some parts are still good your mechanic or someone off Craigslist might take it for parts. My dad got rid of an old Ford Festiva by putting it on Craigslist for parts -- another guy came by and joyously towed it away so that he could fix up his own Festiva.

(And if you have roadside on your insurance, towing it to a mechanic/your place won't cost you.)
There's also donations, of course, which can be handy if you itemize.

parkerk

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Re: Continue commuting beater?
« Reply #6 on: October 17, 2019, 10:39:44 AM »
... my daily driver for the past 21 years has been a 1962 Volvo with God-knows how many hundreds of thousands of miles on it which I bought for exactly $1K.

Yes.  This is the dream. 

Sibley

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Re: Continue commuting beater?
« Reply #7 on: October 17, 2019, 11:01:28 AM »
Why would you need AAA? All my insurance policies have included Roadside Assistance.

ketchup

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Re: Continue commuting beater?
« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2019, 11:12:41 AM »
First off, there are options between a "beater" and a 20k financed new car.

Second, a "beater" is a perfect commuter for 300-400 miles per week.  Drive that sucker into the ground.  Do all the maintenance on time and keep it running well, and it should work gracefully until it finally craps out.  Being left on the side of the highway isn't as bad as you might think. Walk through your day if that actually happens.  You get an Uber to work and call AAA to tow your car to a garage as you leave.  Maybe a couple minutes late for work if it was tight but other than that it's no sweat.

Proud Foot

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Re: Continue commuting beater?
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2019, 01:24:25 PM »
Why would you need AAA? All my insurance policies have included Roadside Assistance.

Second this. Check your auto insurance policy and see if it has it or how much it costs to add if you don't have it. No need for double coverage.

definite integral

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Re: Continue commuting beater?
« Reply #10 on: November 02, 2019, 04:03:25 PM »
Just worried about sustainability. I will be commuting 300 miles a week and this winter I will be taking frequent day trips to ski. A single round trip for that is 230 miles.

Would this information change anyones answer in here?

also I think it is ridiculous I am required to verify 3 different ways before making every post and reply. as a matter of fact I do not think I will sustain lurking these boards because of it. Its ridiculous.

I also value saving in some areas while I value splurging in others. This board seems to follow a lifestyle of "you must be cheap with everything or you are wrong".

back to bogleheads.

bacchi

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Re: Continue commuting beater?
« Reply #11 on: November 02, 2019, 04:41:26 PM »
also I think it is ridiculous I am required to verify 3 different ways before making every post and reply. as a matter of fact I do not think I will sustain lurking these boards because of it. Its ridiculous.

I've never seen that. I login and reply/post without any additional verification. Maybe this only happens for new users which means that it'll disappear soon.

Quote
I also value saving in some areas while I value splurging in others. This board seems to follow a lifestyle of "you must be cheap with everything or you are wrong".

You asked for an opinion and even gave two choices. Were you looking for confirmation of a decision you already made? Then why bother asking?

Also, no one stated it was "wrong." They merely chose option A, which you suggested was an option.